Yosemite National Park Closure Update

yosemite-falls-2As the government shutdown enters the second week, the national parks that have remained open are starting to suffer the consequences of limited staffing. Yosemite is no exception, and as a result park officials recently announced more closures and restrictions in the park. Continue reading

Deal Directly with National Park Concessionaires for Best Access

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Researching national park access can be tedious, especially where lodging is concerned. National park lodges are operated by concessionaires, who operate under strict guidelines, and are responsible for the repair, improvement and daily operation of the facilities. Continue reading

Safari West Loses Accessible Bus in Wildfire

Accessible tent cabin at Safari West will reopen in 2018.

Accessible tent cabin at Safari West will reopen in 2018.

Safari West – a favorite attraction of mine – partially reopened their facilities last month after the Tubbs Fire ravaged Sonoma county. Although much of the land surrounding this wild animal preserve was parched by the fire, the good news is that no animals at Safari West were injured or killed as a result of it. Continue reading

Hot off the Press – My New Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Book!

Yosemite-cover-400x600I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest accessible travel title – “Barrier-Free Travel; Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers”. I had a great time researching this book – partly because I grew up in the area and I have fond memories of exploring Yosemite with my dad, but also because I now live close to the parks. And after 40 years of writing travel I’ve finally penned a book about my home turf! It’s about time. Continue reading

Access Upgrades in California Redwoods

All Access Trail at Hendy Woods State Park

All Access Trail at Hendy Woods State Park

Sometimes I just happen to stumble across cool accessible travel finds. Such was the case yesterday when Charles and I were checking out Hendy Woods. We’ve passed by this California state park many times — located off Highway 128 near Philo — but somehow we never managed to stop. Continue reading

Historic Yosemite Railroad Boasts Excellent Access

I’ve visited a wide variety of rail attractions over the past 20 years on my accessible travel beat, and I have to say that the folks at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (www.YMSPRR.com) really wowed me the other day. Continue reading

Access Plusses Abound in Sequoia National Park

After spending the past three weeks exploring Sequoia National Park for my next book, Barrier-Free Travel; Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers (www.barrierfreeyosemite.com) I’ve come away with some observations about access in this often overlooked national treasure. Of course, as with any research trip there was good and bad, but on the plus side I have to say that the good far outweighed the bad on this Sequoia visit. With that in mind here are my top three “access plusses” – access features that totally wowed me – in the land of the giant sequoias. Continue reading

A Slice of Russia in Northern California


Located on the Northern California Coast, Fort Ross offers good access for wheelchair-users and slow walkers

Located on scenic Highway 1, Fort Ross was once the site of the southernmost Russian settlement in America. Over the years it transitioned from a fort to a ranch, until the state of California purchased the abandoned site in 1903. Today, the refurbished fort is open to the public; and although access is somewhat marginal at many historic attractions, I’m happy to report that thanks to some substantial access upgrades, Fort Ross is now accessible to everyone.

Continue reading

Temecula Wine Tasting

Temecula vineyards

Although I’m a native Californian, I’ve never been to Temecula – that was until yesterday. Since we had an early morning call to check out a wheelchair-accessible balloon on Monday, we decided to come in a day early and enjoy a little Sunday afternoon vino tasting. Since all the wineries charge for their tastings I chose very carefully, and in the end ended up at Bel Vino Winery. And I wasn’t disappointed — with the access or the quality of their wine.

First things first – the access at Bel Vino is top-drawer. Although the parking area is pretty expansive (and crowded on weekends) there was plenty of accessible parking available right next to the tasting room. And if you don’t have a placard, but can’t do the slight hill up to the tasting room, there’s a shuttle available. There is level access to the tasting room, gift shop and bistro, and a large level grassy area with tables outside. Accessible restrooms are also available in the tasting room.

Bel Vino gets top marks all the way around!

As for the tasting, well we opted for the “signature” tasting which was a selection of six one-ounce pours of their premium wines. The price is $15.95 on the weekends or $12.95 on weekdays. I also have to add that Charles and I shared a tasting, which was a good idea because their pours are quite generous. They also have a budget tasting option for $6.95, but I figured we may as well go for the good stuff.

We started with a Chardonnay which was nice, and then followed it with a Viognier which was sweeter than we’re used to, so we decided to pass on the Riesling and move on to the reds. And boy were they ever a treat. The Sangiovese was very well done, but the Tempranillo was excellent. I liked their Merlot, but my absolute favorite was their Long Valley Red. This Bordeaux blend is apparently their first attempt at a varietal, and boy did they ever hit a home run. It’s largely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with just the right combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot mixed in. I liked it so much that I went home with a bottle. I also couldn’t resist the Tempranillo.

As an added bonus, they also have musical entertainment out on the lawn on weekends. And in my book, that’s the icing on an already tasty – and very accessible – cake.